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Ab……Not So Original

It’s pretty safe to say that you can’t have an event like the Olympics without a little controversy. With such a group of diverse people, you never know what is going to happen.

On Sunday, the Russian Ice Dancing Duo, Dominia and Shalbalin turned heads with their cultural interpretation of an Aboriginal Dance. The pair wore red loin cloths, leaves planted all over their bodies, and dark-skinned body suits with tribal war paint on them and everyone took notice. Many Australians were offended, especially those who work and advocate for the rights of Aboriginal peoples.

According to NBC, Austrailian natives deemed the performance as “inaccurate, inauthentic, and insensitive.”

Their coach, Natalia Linichuk, responded to public outcry by saying, “Aboriginal, it translates from Latin language, it’s from the beginning. We try to represent a picture of this time when Aboriginal people start being in the world. It’s no customs, no country, nothing.” Linichuk also explained¬† that the dance moves and costumes were not meant to be offensive.

So what does everyone else think? Offensive or not offensive? Yay or Nay? It is also worth mentioning that the Russians took home the Bronze Medal in ice dancing, just one day after their offensive routine was aired.

Photo (cc) by paddynapper and published here under a Creative Commons liscense. Some rights reserved.

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Death of the “Pink Sheep”

I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the death (probably sucicide) of, fashion designer and self proclaimed “pink sheep” of his family, Alexander McQueen. But many of us are wondering what actually happened.

There is much speculation floating around the interweb concering sucicide and some reports even go so far as to say he hung himself in his London apartment (though these accusations are still yet to be confirmed).

We know that McQueen was suffering from some emotional problems after his mother passed on February 2. McQueen was still dealing with the suicide of a close friend and mentor, Isabella Blow, who took her life after she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2007.

We also know through his now deleted Twitter account that he was questioning life and that his new line would encompass “prolific deamons”, a very dark subject matter.

McQueen was thought to be a creative genius, pushing the fashion envelope to new realms of possibility. In studies of genius, it may be important to note that such brilliant minds often suffer from a mental illness and his mother’s death may have sent McQueen over the edge.

We will never know the exact reason why such a talented and acclaimed person had to die at such a young age. Alexander McQueen, you and your designs were loved throughout the world and you will truly be missed. Rest in peace.

Photo (cc) by Damien Cugley and published here under a Creative Commons liscense. Some rights reserved.

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Another Famous Garfield

First there was Garfield the cat, then there was President Garfield, now there’s Steve Garfield, a well know video blogger who runs his own website and freelances for other sites. He is also the author of the new book Get Seen, a comprehensive “how-to” guide that gives you all the skills you need to create and share videos and media on the web.

Garfield began blogging in 1997, but it was not until 2004 when he started to Vlog (believe it or not Garfield came before YouTube, folks! Impressive!).

Now, with the creation of new media and phone video devices, Garfield is vlogging more than ever before.

“I can click a button and send a video to YouTube.” said an excited Garfield “We now have the ability to both record and share with a device from your pocket!”

So how can us common citizen-journalist folk make the moolah out of this? Well, Garfield suggests getting a job that pays you the green, and blogging on the side. Garfield himself started out as a computer distributor and now he is a highly regarded blogger. Garfield also makes it a point to not to count things out “because they are free.” Of course, not everyone is going to be as successful as Steve Garfield in the blog world, but there’s no harm in trying…right?

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Interesting People: Ethel Weiss

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“What do you want?!” yelled a vivacious old woman from a chair inside of a crowded toy, card and candy shop in Brookline, Mass.

“Wow, I thought, she sure sized me up quickly.” I guess she knew I wasn’t your average customer with my Canon Rebel slung around my neck. It’s okay though, because Ethel Weiss isn’t your average woman. She’s 95 years old and has been in the toy, candy, card business for 71 years. She is the owner and sole employee of Irving’s Toy and Card Shop.

“This place is amazing.” I said looking around wide-eyed, as if I had gotten in a time machine and entered a much simpiler era. “It’s my life, come sit down and talk to me. You’re gonna interview me? I never say no, but you should know I just did one of these this morning.” Weiss then took out a whole binder of newspaper clippings, books, and awards she had been given over the years. She has been named such things as Brookline’s “Guardian Angel”, a “legend”, and an inspirational woman.

Irving’s Toy and Card Shop was started out as a grocery store. Weiss’s then husband, Irving Kravetz, bought the shop and turned it into a wonderous place selling beautiful cards and delicious treats for children. It debuted on January 13th, 1939.¬† When Kravetz died, Weiss decided to keep the shop. She would eventually marry Abe Weiss, who would help her run the shop until his death.

The shop itself is one small room, followed by a hall of toys, but they’re not your average everyday toys. These are toys that I don’t even remember having as a child, but I do remember descriptions of toys like these from my mother.

In fact, mostly everything in Irving’s is old-fashioned, including the cash register. This thing is so old that it doesn’t even do sales tax on it, in fact Weiss told me that the man who sold to her has perished and the last time it broke, she had to have a mechanic order her a part from Texas. Refusing to buy a computer, Weiss keeps all her records in notebooks and calculates all of the money herself. She also refuses to take accept credit cards and places all of her orders by phone.

I approached my next question with caution. “Ethel?” I said, “how do you keep this place going?” She cocked her head and I readied myself for her response. With a sigh she exclaimed “It’s my life, and I love it. I’m not going to act like it’s not hard to get out of bed and force myself down here sometimes, it is, but I love every second of it. And anyway you’ve got to make your money somehow.”

With that the door swung open a Brookline crossing guard, came in and bought a chocolate bar. She looked at me “Wait til you see the kids, they’re gonna be lining up outside the door any second.” I smiled, not believing that there would actually be a line for this place.

“Oh! It’s 2:30” said Weiss “the children will be coming!”

Moments later a lined formed outside the door. Kids were coming and going quicker than milk is bottled in a factory.

A worried parent came through the door, and eyed me.”Writing a story on Ethel?” “Yes sir, I am.” “She’s the absolute best, we love her around here.” And I could see that.

For the next half hour there was non-stop traffic and it was almost hard to breathe. Though, I must say these were the most well-behaved children, I’ve ever seen and Weiss made sure to point that out several times.

When the rush died down, Weiss looked at me. She knew I now understood why she had stayed open all these years. She loved it and the people, most importantly the children, loved her.

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Build It And They Will Come…

Jennifer Paluzzi worked as a newspaper reporter for The MetroWest Daily News. She was the reporter that excelled at “impossible” stories. The one co-workers looked to for direction when there wasn’t one.

Then one day everything changed. In October of 2008, Paluzzi was laid off from her coveted reporting job, handed a severance package, and told that her career as a journalist was basically over.

“Everyone expected me to go into PR” said Paluzzi, “But I had a Plan B.”

9 months before Paluzzi was laid off, she started a WordPress site called “Greater Grafton.” A blog dedicated to what was going on in her hometown.

When Paluzzi told her friends and neighbors about the loss of her job, they weren’t sorry. They said “great, now you have more time to dedicate to us.” Which is exactly what she did.

Paluzzi spent much of her time editing and writing for her blog. A few months later she would meet a business partner and her blog would expand to become dailygraftontimes.com.

She once made a joke about “exhausting her digital camera” and the grateful citizens of Grafton pulled together and sent her a gift card to buy a new one. Which just shows how much of an effect she has had on this area.

Paluzzi now runs several sites, under the domain name centralmassnews.com, for different towns in Mass. including Milbury and Northbridge. These small sites are town oriented and allow parents and citizens to know what is going on within their neighborhoods and school systems.

Dailygraftontimes.com is the fastest growing media business right now and is currently the only business in Mass. hiring reporters.

Glad that she didn’t go into public relations, Paluzzi is having a lot of fun with her work and she’s interested in seeing how it will expand in the future.

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And The Winner Is….Taylor Swift?!

Last night was the 52nd Annual showing of the Grammy’s. Now, normally I’m not too apt to watch these award shows or comment on them, but I have to talk about the holy grail of the Grammy awards; Album of the Year.

Who was up for this award? The Dave Matthews Band (Big Whiskey and the Groo-Grux King), Lady Gaga (The Fame Monster), Beyonce (I am….Sasha Fierce), The Black-Eyed Peas (The E.N.D.), and Taylor Swift (Fearless).

Now, many of these artists have been on scene for years (DMB, The Peas, Beyonce) and some of them are new (Gaga and Swift) and don’t get me wrong just because you’re new doesn’t mean you don’t deserve album of the year. It’s purely about the quality of music, however I can’t get behind the Grammy’s decision to shaft Lady Gaga or Dave Matthews.¬† Their choice, Taylor Swift, just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

Did she make a good album? Yes. Do I own it? Yes. But let’s get real for a second, musically her album doesn’t match up to Gaga or Matthews. She plays the same four chords in nearly every song, changing her strumming or the placement of her capo to make it sound different, which is great. I just feel like an album that is as complex as Big Whiskey and the Groo-Grux King deserves a little recognition (not to mention that Dave Matthews has been shafted at the grammy 13 times before this).

Anyway, congrats to last nights winners. Maybe next year will be better for both nominations and awards, but I’m not placing bets on it.

Photo (cc) by Bounce!!! and published here under a Creative Commons liscense. Some rights reserved.

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